Well it was another early start for me a couple of days ago, but it was well worth it!
There were a number of players from the 50 strong, soon to be 45 training squad. Although there had been a leak on twitter a couple of day before the launch, no one had seen the shirt in the flesh until Monday last. The day kicked off with a welcome cup of coffee and a pastry. then we took our seats in the St George’s Suite for the launch to begin.
It became obvious that not all present were journalists, we had been joined by some very lucky committed supporters who had won a competition to attend this event. There was one very small boy who was initially a bit shy but soon came out of his shell when the players started interacting with the supporters including him. It was lovely to see and that why I personally love our game. None of the players were too aloof to spend time chatting. We were given a terrific guided tour of the President’s suite, sadly Sir Jase (Leonard).our president, was not in residence that day. Then it was off to the Committee room where, as Will Carling in 1995 would put it the 57 old farts sit! Sadly this led to his sacking as England Captain. Still a hero of mine! Then down to the changing room which has been refurbished substantially. We were warned not to go into the shower area as one visitor had stayed in there recently and was soaked by the automatic showers! The tunnel area has been improved massively and the normal rather dab feeling of the stadium is now so much more welcoming , especially as there are thousands of supporters photos in a huge collage. Meg Stevens would appreciate it! Even the pitch has never looks so pristine. We had our mobiles confiscated as we were being treated to an unreleased advertisement concerning the forthcoming Rugby World Cup. I have to admit to a tear forming in my eyes, the footage was very emotional and made me proud to be representing England on #rugbyunited during this period. I am truly blessed!
A small group numbering seven of us social media journalists were taken upstairs to another suite where we were given the opportunity to interview a couple of the players. I admit, I have never been a big fan of Saracens but Billy Vumipola and Jamie George were terrific and very informative, so I have uploaded footage of interviews with both. Thanks guys, were both great fun to chat to.
Off we went for a general mingle with the players, this was very informal and our littlest fan made the most of it! Each fan was presented with their own Rugby World Cup shirt and most took no time in getting the players to sign them. After all what an opportunity to get the players in one place!
None of the above would have been possible had it not been for a personal invitation from @CanterburyNZ who made the shirts. My personal thanks goes out to Nat Brierley who made the day very memorable and who presented me with a limited edition England Test Shirt (only 2015 made) and made to the same standards as the players shirt. The build quality and innovation into manufacture and fabric was second to none. The players said it was by far the best shirt they had ever worn. I am sure they were being genuine as opposed to taking the Canterbury line. I was equally impress with the alternate red shirt which was of the same quality. Needless to say I took the opportunity to get my shirt signed by quite a few players including Captain Fantastic, Chris Robshaw, Dan Cole, and Marland Yarde. The following day, it was down to the framer so i can hang that little beauty on my wall!
Billy Vunipola and Jamie George were appearing alongside their England team mates at the launch of the innovative England Rugby World Cup 2015 shirt #CommittedToEngland. Visit Canterbury.com.